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Stony Brook Power Player: Jim Morgo

Jim Morgo, the University Council’s newest member, has high hopes for the future of Stony Brook University.

After spending 17 years teaching high school English, Morgo is making a transition back into the educational setting, but this time in a slightly different environment. He was appointed to the position in December by former New York Gov. David Paterson and currently serves as the Town of Brookhaven’s Economic Development Coordinator and President of Morgo Private Public Strategies.

“I think I can be a value to the university,” said Morgo. “I also understand the university’s value to the community.”

Morgo’s background in education and economic development made him a front-runner for the job.  He said that he believes the economic activity and research capabilities of the university could be utilized and turned into future businesses on Long Island.

“Jim’s passion for education, housing and economic development runs deeper than anyone in public service,” said Kevin Law, the Council Chairperson, who worked with Morgo for more than 20 years at the Long Island Housing Partnership and the County of Suffolk. “I cannot think of a finer person to join the SBU Council and look forward to working with Jim once again.”

With the research capabilities and opportunities provided at Stony Brook, Morgo is surprised at the amount of potential that leaves the island when students graduate. A large part of the problem, in his opinion, is the high cost of living in the area.

“I learned when I was a legislator that the cost of home ownership was preventing kids who grew up here from coming back,” he said. “This got me worried about the future of Long Island.”

State involvement in Stony Brook’s finances is one issue that particularly troubles Morgo.

“I would like to see Stony Brook set its own tuition,” he said. “It’s something that shouldn’t be set by politics. There are a lot of trained administrators on campus [that are qualified]. I don’t understand why legislators in Albany are setting tuition.”

The Public Higher Education Empowerment and Innovation Act, created by Gov. David Paterson, is a program to achieve economic growth through jobs like construction. State and City Universities of New York will be able to join private-public partnerships and lease land. Tuition fees will go solely into  SUNY campuses.

On an average day, Morgo works from home in the morning completing online tasks associated with his company. He then travels into town for various projects associated with Brookhaven.  He also meets with officials to discuss approaches for the Planning and Economic Department for the town.

In addition to his job as an educator, Morgo has served as a legislator for the Eighth District in Suffolk County, sat as Suffolk County’s first Commissioner of Economic Development and Workforce Housing and served as Chief Deputy County Executive.

“I loved teaching, but there was an opening in the legislature, and local democrats told me to run, but I didn’t think I would win,” he said. “I learned about larger concerns…but I didn’t think I was getting enough done. I wanted to work on something more constructive.”

This led to his work with the Long Island Housing Partnership, which he believes is the “most respected organization on Long Island” because of its proactive involvement in island-wide struggles faced by all communities. According to the partnership’s mission statement, it was created to address the need for and provide affordable housing opportunities on Long Island for those who would not be able to otherwise. Programs such as technical assistance and mortgage counseling are a few solutions.

Morgo and his wife reside on Long Island. They have four children, all married, and seven grandchildren. Ranging from five months to seven years old. One more grandchild is due in June.

 

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